Friday, March 20, 2009
Truly Changing times
The UK has just appointed the first black man to a FTSE 100 company, Prudential Insurance. What is amazing is this guy fled war torn Ivory Coast and made it to this position. Seriously, with stories like this, blacks are quickly running out of excuses. We need to reevaluate the strategies currently used in the "struggle". Especially Black male victimhood. There is a time to mourn and a time to move on. I mentioned before that I have no more tolerance for Black men's cry of racism especiall given the fact that they seem to have little consideration for Black women and children that are in the same struggle. Why should I feel you plight when you can't feel mine?
As I see it, racism is going no where. Obama's Presidency has shown us that. Just deal with it as an American reality and find ways of getting around it. Any black man crying racism now sounds to me as a whiner, whether his experience is real or not. Acts of racism that are worth fighting are those that pose an immediate danger to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
And by pursuit of happiness, I am not concerned about social integration that many a Black man seems to be more concerned about. The Attorney General stepped in the crap on this one. Why exactly some are more concerned about social integration than basic necessities like equal education, employment and housing is beyond me. Someone on another blog said that the Civil Rights movements biggest achievement was that Black men can now freely go with White Women. Now that is debateable, however, with the struggle so screwed should black women be as concerned about this struggle that seems to give us nothing more than crumbs?
Anyway, here is a story about Tidjane Thiam the first UK CEO of a FTSE 100 Company.
LONDON -- Tidjane Thiam, who 10 years ago was forced to flee a military coup in Ivory Coast, is set to make U.K. corporate history when he takes over the top spot at insurer Prudential PLC, becoming the first black chief executive of an FTSE 100 company.
Also Thursday, the insurer reported a net loss for 2008 but said its operating profit using European embedded value accounting standards rose 17% and that its capital position remained strong.
The announcements triggered a 13% rally in Prudential shares in London.
Mr. Thiam, who in 1998 was named one of the "100 Global Leaders of Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum, joined Prudential last March from Aviva PLC, where he was the CEO of Aviva Europe. He has received several other international awards and is considered a rising star in the financial sector.
Currently the chief financial officer, he will take over from current CEO Mark Tucker in October.
Mr. Thiam's appointment comes amid intense competition in a U.K. market already in recession, a continuing dislocation in investment markets globally and slowing contributions from Prudential's key Asian operations.
Heard on the Street
Prudential's CEO Departs on a HighA £1.78 billion ($2.54 billion) loss on investments, stemming mainly from its U.S. operations, pushed Prudential into a £396 million net loss for 2008, the insurer said. In 2007, Prudential had generated a net profit of £947 million.
The result reflects the same fate suffered by other major insurers like Aviva, Standard Life PLC and Friends Provident PLC, which in recent days posted net losses as poor investment markets savaged any gain from their core insurance operations.
However, Prudential's announcement of a £2.96 billion operating profit using European embedded value accounting standards cheered investors. Operating profit doesn't include any short-term investment losses.
Prudential said it had a capital surplus of £1.7 billion, up from £1.4 billion at the end of September. It also recommended a 5% increase in its 2008 dividend to 18.9 pence a share.
In a briefing, Mr. Tucker said Prudential has quit the auction process to acquire the Asian operations of American International Group Inc., but is still looking for other acquisitions. "We did not submit a bid in the process. Our view was that we could not get to the value criteria that we had in place," he said.
Mr. Tucker said slowing exports and weaker economic growth in Asian markets pose challenges to Prudential's business there in the short term but added that the company remains positive over the medium term. He also warned that "2009 will be a challenging year and we will continue to focus on balancing growth with cash and capital generation."
Mr. Thiam, a French national, began his career with McKinsey & Co., where he worked from 1986 to 1994 in Paris and London, serving insurance companies and banks.
Between 1994 and 1998, Mr. Thiam returned to the Ivory Coast to be chief executive of the National Bureau for Technical Studies and Development, reporting directly to the president and prime minister. He was then appointed as minister of planning and development but left the country after the December 1999 military coup. Upon his return, he was elected as a partner of McKinsey, where he worked until joining Aviva in 2002.
Mr. Tucker said that Mr. Thiam "has exceptional talent and ability and will do a wonderful job." He didn't elaborate on why he decided to leave Prudential. He added that he is considering what he will do next when he steps down after 25 years at the company and more than four years as CEO.
Mr. Thiam said he feels "privileged" to succeed Mr. Tucker.
—Simon Kennedy contributed to this article.